Safer Pathways to Burn Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children

Dr Julieann Coombes1, Dr Courtney Ryder2, Dr Kate Hunter1, Dr  Sarah  Frazer4, Professor Andrew  Holland3, Ms Madeleine  Jacques3, Ms Deborah Maze3, Mr Dale Forbes5, Mr Michele  Scarcella3, Mr Karl Briscoe6

1The George Institute For Global Health, Newtown, Australia, 2Flinders University, , Australia, 3The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, Westmead, Australia, 4University Of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia, 5NSW Department of Communities and Justice, , Australia, 6National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association, , Australia


There are well documented access barriers to both primary and tertiary healthcare services for First Nations people in urban and rural/remote settings. At present, First Nations Workers at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead are accessible only to inpatients and have large caseloads. The addition of an Aboriginal Health Worker as a discharge planner to the burns team will ensure all children are supported across all facets of our burn services. This project will streamline discharge planning and burn aftercare, leading to attendance to follow up appointments, greater communication between services and families and ultimately positively affecting the children’s long-term outcomes. The Aboriginal Health Worker will be trained as a care coordinator using a Structured Interdisciplinary approach to connect families with local primary health care and specialist burn services to ensure effective, culturally appropriate discharge planning and access to ongoing burn care. This project called Safe Pathways has a strong focus on ‘Systems Effectiveness’ through development of workforce capacity and continuous quality improvement and will assess quality and safety of care provision for First Nations children. Australia’s First Nations people experience optimal health outcomes in environments that support connection to country, culture, family and community; where there is trust in the service and families experience cultural safety in the healthcare. Tertiary services have a responsibility to ensure equitable and timely care to achieve optimal patient outcomes for every child treated, not only in the acute phase of healing but on through rehabilitation and life until adulthood.


Dr Julieann Coombes identifies as a Gumbaynggir woman and highly skilled career professional with over 27 years nursing experience working in Aboriginal Community Health. She now focuses on improving health inequalities and outcomes for First Nations people and communities through research using Indigenous Knowledges (knowing, being and doing) and methodologies which empowers First Nations people’s voices in all her work. She has extensive experience in social and cultural determinants of health research, Indigenous methodologies and applies decolonising methods to all her research projects. Julieann has a commitment to ensure that all research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is conducted in an ethical correct way and research integrity should be underpinned by equity, transparency and self-determination.

Her work in Indigenous research methods, public health knowledge and qualitative research, work which is published, has been cited in policy, media and academic publications.

Julieann received her PhD at University of Technology, Sydney and is a Senior Research Fellow for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute for Global Health.

Recent Comments